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· MassCops Founder
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There are many discussions with regard to concealed carry issues involving law enforcement. Whether we are talking about off duty officers, on duty detectives or plain-clothes personnel, nobody, in our ranks, argue the necessity to carry. What I would like to do in this article is to talk about some of the issues that I am most often confronted by and also address the many officers who choose to carry their firearms openly, in plain view.

Arguments abound, "if my weapon is visible I most likely will not be challenged". In this line of thinking the weapon is used as a deterrent. Then there is the opposite view point, "if my firearm is hidden from plain sight, I have the option as to whether I fight or not". This officer feels that there are times when he will not be able to use his weapon and will have to be content to be a good witness. Example: In crowded restaurant where the discharge of a weapon has a potential to be more serious than the event taking place.

Concealment provides options that are not available to the officer carrying in plain view. If a suspect with a weapon sees that I am armed the options I had prior to that time will most likely dry up.
The whole idea involving concealed carry of any weapon is to appear unarmed. This allows a person to carry without attracting attention and letting possible assailants know who you are.

Another side to this issue is officers who do not carry at all. They are in this "off duty syndrome" where "if they are going to play me, they're going to pay me". Some of these people live in small towns where everyone knows who you are. Certainly this officer has not had the occasion to be recognized by someone he has arrested. Maybe it was just your photo appearing in the local newspaper or on TV. Another thing I find amazing about this same officer without a gun, is he's wearing a departmental T-shirt or sweatshirt, proudly representing himself as a police officer. He should count himself lucky if embarrassment is the only pain he is caused.

Many narcotics officers want to carry a particular style of weapon that does not give them away as a police officer. They feel they can be identified as a result of carrying a weapon used by the local departments. And always, with any officer, they should carry more than one gun. We used to say "a pair and a spare" is not out of the question. Having more than one can provide you with a greater variety of options, if one weapon is found and taken often that will end the search, still leaving you armed.

Another concern is that the officer may not be in possession of an alternate weapon. As an example, if OC is carried as an intermediate weapon, the officer is trained to utilize it as a part of his force continuum. Many people feel that the officer should have this option available from an off duty capacity as well. We all recognize that issues such as these have the potential to at least alter an officer's response in a situation.
Depth of concealment is always an issue. The deeper the weapon is concealed, the more you have to be thinking in advance of the threat. Seeing it coming, staying in condition yellow is a necessity. The rational is simple. When the weapon is deeply concealed it takes more time to obtain it, get it into action. If you're thinking ahead, looking for the opportunity you should not be slowed to a standstill. Also the option with regard to alternatives to the fight should be constantly assessed as the process is taking place. Again, these options are generally a non-issue if the weapon is exposed.

The real issue for the trainer is, do you train your officers for this? Do you train with off duty weapons and carry equipment? If not, I dare say you're behind the curve.

Too much time is spent on "qualification" to the tune that we have no resources left for training. Sometimes we have a modified course or qualification for alternate or off duty weapon, but this does not scratch the surface. Real issues of tactics are vastly different than those of on duty. In the face of this many officers will say "how can this be, a fight is a fight". Off duty we must choose our fight, to make sure the situation does not become worse as a result of our intervention. If we take action it must be to make the situation better. That is our obligation to the public we serve. Also, have we trained our officers as to how to conduct themselves so that they do not become the victims of friendly fire? To mention just a couple of differences.

The real facts are that we pay too little attention to the way our officers respond off duty. Our plain clothes people generally want a uniform officer standing by whenever they have to do business. But what about the unexpected times when things spontaneously occur? Many times the trainer will say, "I don't want to know". And yet our people spend more time carrying a weapon off duty than in an on duty capacity. And if they are carrying concealed they have a better opportunity of seeing a crime committed than if they were in uniform.

I have had people tell me, "all these issues is just a matter of professionalism". Maybe we have driven over the edge of the earth too. I look at these like other issues in law enforcement, we all know those who have 20 years in and those that have one year in 20 times, its always the same people and guess what? They all blame the instructor when things don't go the way they think it should. The bottom line is, if they don't know its because you haven't taught it.
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